Chandler Solimine '19 gives a first-person view into "NESCAC Saturdays" in the fall at Trinity's athletic fields.

The first time I visited Trinity, it was coincidentally over Homecoming Weekend and I immediately fell in love with the immense school spirit all over campus. Students and families were everywhere, decked out in blue and gold Trinity gear and cheering on the multiple teams that were competing. The noise of the cars zooming by on Broad Street were no match for the exciting sounds of cheers, warm up music, and buzzers coming from each of the games. Little did I know, this ecstatic energy surrounding Trinity’s fall sports teams does not only show itself once a year during homecoming, but rather on several Saturdays throughout the fall and spring, during what we like to call “NESCAC Saturdays.”

Most people are probably familiar with some of the country’s most competitive collegiate athletic conferences such as the Big 10 or SEC, consisting of schools made up of tens of thousands of students, but I can confidently say that the rivalry and competitive edge of the Division III NESCAC conference is equally as riveting for those who follow it. NESCAC is short for the New England Small College Athletic Conference, consisting of 11 liberal arts colleges from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, all the way to Trinity here in Hartford. The common goal of the NESCAC is to promote the well-balanced student athlete, one who takes athletics seriously but still maintains an equally strong focus on academics and other extra-curricular activities. Despite the restrictions on out-of-season activity relating to a chosen sport, when the first day of the season rolls around there is definitely no holding back on the field.

I work as a student tour guide for the Trinity Admissions Office, and when it’s time to discuss athletics, I always start with how Saturdays in the fall are—by far—my favorite days of the school year. As a fall athlete myself, I have a game almost every Saturday from early September through November, but it is not only the hype of the game itself that I look forward to each week. On a typical NESCAC Saturday, my field hockey team, as well as both the women’s and men’s soccer teams, will all be playing against the same NESCAC rival. This common scheduling partnership between NESCAC schools and teams creates a unique bond among us, as we are able to easily keep track of each other’s success. For example, on a home NESCAC Saturday, my field hockey game might start at 11 a.m. followed by women’s soccer at noon, then football at 1 p.m., and men’s soccer at 3 p.m. And if the weather is too cold, or too hot, or too wet, there is a Trinity volleyball tournament going on inside Ferris Athletic Center as well.  As an athlete, this provides the opportunity to cheer on your friends on other teams after your own game, and as a non-athlete, it gives you a day full of exciting games that you can pick and choose from to watch.

“Every NESCAC opponent is a different challenge that we work and prepare so hard for. There is nothing better than winning a NESCAC match on Saturday. In the morning, my team gets up early and goes to Mather Hall to eat a team breakfast. After that, we go watch the women’s soccer game and get prepared mentally for ours,” states Bantam men’s soccer senior David Grant.  “There is an invigorating atmosphere on campus created by students and parents who come visit.  The football team has a schedule of its own, but when they are playing at home on the same day as the rest of us, it makes the day even more exciting.”

The setup of Trinity’s campus and athletic fields make bouncing from game to game super easy and adds to the excitement of the atmosphere. The field hockey field, football field, and soccer field are all adjacent to one another, so from the stands of one field, you can still easily see either the scoreboard or the actual play going on at the other two fields. For fans, it’s great to be able to head over to another game and check the score during half time, or catch the end of a close match. Since my own games usually start earlier than the others, I have always loved being able to hear the football or soccer warm-up music begin to play while my game is still going on, as a sort of mid-game pump up. Recent graduate Kelcie Finn ’18, a former teammate of mine, has many fond memories of competing during NESCAC Saturdays throughout her career as a Bantam as well.

“A NESCAC Saturday on Trinity’s campus in the fall is something special and unmatched by any other school due to the proximity of all of the fields. With overlapping warm-up playlists blaring before and even during the games, occasional sirens and chaos from Broad Street, and the crowds of people overflowing from one field to another, what others would imagine were distractions made up the atmosphere that made us feel at home. No matter how focused and zoned into the game, the sound of the touchdown rooster from the football field or goal announcement from the soccer field would always catch my attention in the background and provide an extra boost of adrenaline knowing another Bantam team was getting the job done,” she stated.

When asked what NESCAC Saturdays at Trinity mean to him, Bantam football senior captain Sameir Madden stated, “I think that at Trinity we are fortunate enough to have a crowd that brings a lot of energy. As players, we feed off that energy and it really helps us gain momentum. Win or lose, our friends and family are there for us after every game, and to me, that’s what is most important.”

Since Trinity is the closest NESCAC school to my hometown in New York, my family tries its best to make it to as many home games as they can. The field hockey games are usually earlier in the day, so my parents and siblings will arrive right before the first whistle blows, ready to cheer on the different teams for the rest of the afternoon. After the game and before heading over to the other games, each team always does a potluck tailgate next to its field with tons of great food prepared by the parents. Regardless of how the game went, it is a great time to have teammates, family, coaches, and even some teammates’ family dogs, all in one place celebrating our hard work. Each Trinity team has its own spin on this post-game tradition.  The football parents may take the cake in the tailgate game, given their many, many tents filled with grills and enough food to feed a small army, but no matter the team you are a part of or rooting for, a NESCAC Saturday guarantees a day full of sports and food, two of the best ways to bring people together.

“My favorite fall weekend is a beautiful drive seeing the foliage and landing at Trinity College for a day of field hockey, football, and fabulous fun tailgating with all the athletes, students, alumni and families! Nothing warms my heart more than to see Coach Anne Parmenter leading the field hockey team to victory and the crowd screaming GO YOU BANTAMS!” stated Mary Beth Fitzpatrick, mother of Sophie Fitzpatrick ’16, another former field hockey teammate of mine.

So, if you are planning a visit to campus this fall, whether you are an alum, parent, sibling, friend, faculty member, recruit, or just a fan of Trinity sports, definitely come by on a Saturday decked out in your best blue and gold, and ready to cheer hard for our fall teams. I can promise you a day full of friendly rivalry and school spirit showing what it really means to be a Trinity Bantam.

 

Written by Chandler Solimine ’19